HOPKINTON - As he lay on the infield grass of Hopkinton High School’s baseball field - an athlete’s village for the 27,000 runners in Monday’s Boston Marathon - Michael Graham stared at the sky, incredulous at how clear it was.
“I was hoping it would be a little cloudy today,’’ he said.
It was 7 a.m. and the temperature was just pushing past 70.
“It’s supposed to be 82 when I finish,’’ he said.
He had big plans.
“My goal was 2 hours and 54 minutes,’’ he said. But he knew the sun would have something to say about it.
As cool as it was in the wee hours, as busloads of runners poured into Hopkinton for the 116th running of the Marathon, by the time they reached the corrals at the start line, the sun was beating down as they braced for the hottest Marathon in the past decade.
Every runner had a different approach.
As she trained for the race in Arlington, Tenn., Kelly Henson kept a constant eye on the weather in New England before making the trip for her first Boston Marathon.
She knew what she was in for.
“The weatherman was correct in this case,’’ she said, with a grin. “But we’re mad because he was right.’’
This was the seventh overall marathon for the 42-year-old, who said temperatures spiked in Tennessee as she trained for the race.
“We were getting 80-degree evenings,’’ she said. “So we’re used to it.’’
Running in her hometown of Houston, Laura Aguilar-Ramirez, 36, said it’s in the 60s and 70s, even in the winter.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, she said, “The sun, everything.’’
Aguilar-Ramirez was celebrating her 25th marathon - “I’m shooting for 40 before 40’’ - and said running in Boston was on her bucket list.
She did, however, picture it a little different. She said her goal is to run the marathon majors (Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Berlin) and she may give Boston another go to get a truer experience.
“I may want to come back again, just to run in the cold,’’ she said.
Hadley Riegel, Emily Reddich, and Angela Desmond were three of 200 Boston College students running to raise money for Campus School, which educates children with multiple disabilities and complex healthcare needs.
Riegel ran last year for the first time in about 3 hours and 22 minutes.
“I think this time it’s not about time and more about just being in the race and having fun and the spirit of the marathon,’’ said Riegel, 22, from Connecticut. “I think that trumps everything, just wanting to finish.”
Wearing American flag shorts and nothing else besides his shoes, Tim Price, a 22-year old from Warren, Pa., was practically playing chicken with the sun.
“I like this climate,’’ said Price, who went to the University of Vermont. “I don’t mind the cold, the heat’s not bad.’’
It was his second Boston Marathon, fifth overall. He wasn’t about to complain about a beautiful day.
“These are the best runners in the world,’’ he said. “It’s the Boston Marathon. If you can’t deal with it, tough. It could be 30 degrees and raining, which this is a whole lot better.’’
Standing near one of the entrances to the Village, Karl Leitz had a red, white, and, blue shield - it looked more like a Frisbee - hanging on the chain-linked fence.
His matching shirt made it clear he was running as Captain America, but instead of the Avengers, his girlfriend Aya Takeichi, was his running partner, dressed nearly identical.
“We’ve run several marathons together as Mr. and Mrs. Captain America,’’ he said. “We make a cute couple. It’s very fun. We get lots of cheers. Captain America’s always a crowd favorite.’’
Some of the runners’ costumes included bumble bees and B. Good burgers, bananas and toothbrushes, Minnie Mouse and Elmo, all tailing the field’s elite runners. Leitz wanted to make sure the crowd knew there were two competitions.
“While, yes, there’s going to be a very interesting competition between the elite women and the elite men, there’s a much more important competition going on,’’ Leitz said, referring to the battle for best costume.
Their friend Yoshiko Jo from Swarthmore, Pa., ran the 26 miles in a hula outfit.
Leitz said he’s run in worse conditions, but it was hard to tell if he meant the weather or the wardrobe. He ran last fall’s New York City marathon in an Iron Man costume.
“Full mask and everything,’’ he said. “Shoulder pads and the lot.’’
He ran a half marathon, he said, dressed as Thor.
As the start times neared, Chris Nemeth of Evanston, Ill., rubbed himself down in sunscreen.
This was his 25th Boston Marathon, he said, and the years of experience only help.
“The best way to prepare for the condition was three months ago start training well,’’ he said. “Another way to prepare for these conditions is to have the experience to know this course and know what’s going to happen.’’
Over and over again, runners were advised to pace themselves. Nemeth didn’t argue at all.
“Being ready for the weather, you’ve got to listen to your body and be prudent because running’s a lifetime career not a one-time race,’’ he said.
He’s run 54 marathons, some in situations where cold threatened to cancel races, fog made it difficult to see, and rain made it miserable just to take one splashy step after another.
“Part of being [prepared] is to be ready for whatever mother nature presents you.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.